EDIT: I thank everyone for their feedback and wonderful suggestions. My question has been thoroughly answered.
I’d like to regularly make Blender tutorials. But, I’d like to know my general audience. Even in advanced tutorials, many instructors walk through nearly every keystroke. That is awesome for beginners, but it takes a lot of time. For instance,
is nearly 90 minutes long!
I want to do things like a full walkthrough of making a short film. Going into the same amount of detail would take forever. CGCookie’s Introduction to Blender is over 10 hours of basics! I want to focus a lot on production quality and professional pipelines that can scale to very complex projects. But, that could become extremely tedious if I mention every keystroke.
How detailed do you think my instruction should be? I have no idea what the typical skill level in the Blender community is, and I don’t know what kind of audience there is for advanced tutorials of this nature. Any thoughts? Would it be appropriate for me to say that my tutorials are intermediate to advanced and refer beginners to CGCookie’s Introduction to Blender? Are there even enough intermediate to advanced blender users that I can justify only targeting them?
If enough of you think that the basics need taught thoroughly with some polish, I will expand my outline to be much more comprehensive and cover the basics. but, if you don’t think that more basic tutorials are needed, I will skip them.
I don’t consider myself a tutorial expert, but based on being yelled at on a prior video I split my last series into multiple videos with logical cuts; eg modeling, uv unwrapping, etc, and included timestamps in the description. I tried to make it as convenient as possible for someone to skip to the next part if they already know something.
As far as technical detail, Run a screencast key monitor to avoid needing to explain every button press. Otherwise, I try to explain everything in a way that I would have understood when I was about 15 years old. I try to focus more on explaining why I’m doing something rather than how. UV unwrapping, for example, isn’t very difficult to do. Understanding why to unwrap a certain thing one way or another is more difficult. So I try as best I can to focus on and explain the latter.
Most importantly, listen to feedback in the comments. It’ll be clear if you screwed up somewhere, and you can make adjustments down the line.
There is an option that you can enable that shows the keys you press and the mouse clicks you do.
So if you dont move to fast, the newbies slow or pause your youtube and see what you do.
You can talk what you do in general, ea i go devide this, and then that should be clear to others who allready know how to do that.
its often pretty frustrating if one does follow a tutorial, and at some point its just not clear what someone said or did there.
i never made one
But maybe its best to video edit to skip parts, say do rigging or so, explain the basics but dont go into character modelling too.
and dont show how every detail was made in the character, nice show of skill, but might have little teaching valeu if it is about rigging.
such things go often wrong, people making to lengty videos, try to keep it around 7 minutes
Your instincts are good. Advanced users need less of the basics, and no one likes to watch hours of junk they already know.
If I were you, I would make the video you wished you had had available when you were getting more advanced and needed a leg up. What you can do for those of us who are new (that would be me) is maybe take about ten seconds at the beginning of your video to explain that it is an advanced tutorial, and leave some links in the comment section (assuming YouTube here, but whatever) leading people to the kind of things they need to know to get up to speed before using your tutorial.
I think you’d be surprised at how useful advanced tutorials are even to newbs though, because they inspire, and because you can PAUSE them while you look up basic things you don’t yet know.
Just to let everyone know, I changed the title and edited my first post to make my question clearer.
I like the idea of referrals. Haha, CGCookie would love me.
I know about screencast keys, and I have used it. But, I would go too fast if doing something complex in a decent amount of time. I tried making heavily edited videos, and it went well. But, my desktop PC crashed. So, I am looking at making tutorials with my laptop. It isn’t great, but it is enough to get started. I would make use of pausing, though.
I’m looking at making something like a course. It would be heavily structured and based on teaching the concepts and how to apply them rather than what I am exactly doing. I would divide everything by category in addition to the tutorials being grouped by task. To help maintain this structure, I would like to make as few changes as possible after I begin a series. I accept that I may need to make some changes. But, I wouldn’t want to completely change the skill level after I begin.
I’m really liking the reference idea. If anything, it would bring tons of great community resources and organize them within the context of a complete project.
Well-planned tutorials that cover pipeline, approach, and intermediate to advanced details
If something is already covered by a good tutorial, refer viewers to that tutorial and don’t spend too much time on it.
This would be best to do at the very beginning of the video. A brief summary of what I teach in the video along with this would also be great.
Each video should be less than 7 minutes, maximum of 20min if absolutely necessary.
Make sure that series are divided by content (texturing, rigging, etc).
Use Screencast Keys.
Make sure that I remain fluid and easy to follow. Not going over fundamentals is one thing; jumping all over the place without explaining my process and intentions is another.
You are correct. I intend to use YouTube. I actually already have a channel and a very simple videos. But, I am not familiar with content creation side of YouTube. So, any tips are good.
I loved the advanced tutorials, but I am a bit different from most people in that regard. So, I try not to make assumptions. It’s nice to know that others have similar appreciations!
I will certainly try to cover the overall project pipeline and such. That is my primary focus, and I will try to not get lost too much in the trivial tasks. But, I also want to focus on polish that most tutorials don’t cover that make or break production quality. I expect that this balancing act will be an ongoing challenge that I must think about often.
Even if I go too fast at times, I will enable them anyway. It can’t hurt.
Video editing is something that I would really like to do. I had Camtasia Studio 8 setup on my PC, but it died. I am recording with OBS, but I don’t know what to edit my videos with. I’d especially like to be able to add annotations without relying on YouTube, but a simple editor is better than nothing. I would like to use Blender for video editing, but I have had issues with ffmpeg destroying the video quality upon import. I am open to suggestions.
I like the idea of mentioning references in the beginning, but also having links to my references along the way would be an awesome thing to have. I would probably use annotations rather than captions, though. On a different note, I don’t know anything about captions in YouTube, so I haven’t even thought about that. I will look into them. I can see how it would be very useful. If I decide to make a downloadable sheet for each tutorial, I could just put the steps in the captions if nothing else. I will need to see how much time all of it would take, though. However, I will be making outlines for the tutorials anyway when I plan each of them.
I plan to divide my videos carefully by topic, but I expect that to be difficult in some cases. I will need to plan carefully so that I don’t have to do things like make color management changes during a physically based shaders tutorial.
I will definitely watch your tutorial series. It seems interesting.
I would really like to keep the videos around 5 minutes, but I can think of cases where that isn’t possible. I will definitely try to keep them as short as possible. A video editor would really help with that.
I never thought of offering something like a PDF for offline, but that is a good idea. I outline the tutorial for myself anyway. I don’t know how useful it would be without images, though. If I can think of a good way to seamlessly save screenshots while I record, this is a possibility.
I plan to use Blender 2.77, and I won’t change Blender versions during a series unless a must-have feature comes out. But, most of the features I use have been around a while. I haven’t been keeping track of which features are introduced in each version, but new features would only affect a few tutorials. I prefer consistency over having the newest version.
I will be using Cycles. All the projects that I have used in the past used BI, but I really like Cycles and have been working hard to master it. And, I plan to build my new PC for Cycles… eventually.
Learn the basics of audio. Learn what a wave form is and how to make sure your audio is at an optimum level after you have recorded the video. You can open the video files in an NLE to check this. Audacity even. And learn to manipulate the audio recording so it has presence and is clean. (Compression/EQ if needed)
Record in a good acoustic environment with a professional mic. A unidirectional is best, pointed away from the keyboard so you don’t hear all kinds of annoying clicks and key punches. Don’t use a cheap internet chat headset!
Don’t fall in love with hearing yourself speak. Enough said.
Don’t open a video with a blank screen, where you explain for any length of time what you are about to do.
Show it. If you want to introduce the video content. Wait and edit that in at the end by showing brief clips of what the video does and mix it in with scripted voice over that goes to the point.
Don’t mix techniques, subjects in one video. In other words, don’t waste my time showing me you modeling a cloth object just to show me how cloth dynamics work. Or modeling a character to show people rigging.
A project based tutorial is OK. But keep the subjects separated so a person can focus on what it is they need to know.
Provide starter content for scenes if specific things are needed. (relates to 5)
I like tutorials that are longer than 7 minutes. I hate trying to find the next part from description or feed if the maker did not put the link to the description. (it happens very much.) but it would be cool to add time links to the video so people can easily skip boring parts
Those are some great tips, Richard Culver. I am still considering these technical details.
I am familiar with waveforms and audio editing in general. I didn’t know that Audacity could open the audio from video files. That is very helpful. But, I expect that it can’t save changes of that audio directly to the video file. In the past I edited the audio in Camtasia Studio 8, but my PC died.
I have a cheap $30 condenser mic that works well for voice overs. I can adjust the gain and position myself to avoid percussive bursts and to avoid ambient noise. Because I can’t setup a permanent area, in the past I used my Logitech web cam’s built-in mic. It is surprisingly good, but it maxes the gain when I stop talking. In the past, I used Camtasia to mute the audio when I wasn’t talking. At this time, I don’t know of an alternative without a decent video editor. I thought about using press-to-talk, but that would be extremely troublesome.
That definitely isn’t a problem for me. I have nothing against muting the audio unless I have something useful to say. My goal is to be very concise.
That would be ideal, but I don’t have a way to edit it in. I wish that ffmpeg’s import function in Blender’s VSE wasn’t garbage. It could work for certain things, but not for text and artwork. At this point I am thinking of doing each tutorial twice: once to rehearse and to create the demo for the video intro and a second time for the tutorial.
I haven’t thought of sharing starting files. I will need to keep that in mind, although I don’t know how applicable it would be since my main focus will be workflow and full projects.
Thank you. And, if you didn’t notice, I am facing a wall when it comes to software for editing. If you have any suggestions, I would really appreciate it. I have a budget AMD laptop and a Mac Mini. I’m really in need of a very low-budget pipeline for making tutorials that isn’t a time waster of buggy or inadequate software.
It really depends upon the tutorial. The majority of tutorials on YouTube should be at least half as long as they are or even less. Keeping to one topic, editing out mistakes, and being concise can save a surprising amount of time.
if you want live feed back consider useing a streaming service such as twitch, live viewers can question you if they are getting lost, and if you set up a paetron or other donation account some people will give you money. you would need to heavily edit your videos to keep the length down and eliminate the distractions. but people might throw a few dollars your way. seen a guy on twitch modeling an airplane, he got about $30 in the half hour i watched but that is higher than most non partnered streams i have seen so an outlier. you can use it for immediate feedback and consider any donations a bonus. just stream in the creative category since its mainly a gaming site.
My biggest gripe with most Blender tutorials is amazingly how the all cover the same topics and in almost the same manner. It’s as if one person watches a tutorial and thinks cool let me make the exact same tutorial, covering the exact topic.
I was trying to rig a cat recently and thought let me quickly watch some videos on spline ik as I wanted to use that for the tail. I watched like four tutorials and the were all shallow, using the exact same example and covering the same basic information. And it is like this with most topics you can think of.
Hm… That is an interesting idea. But, my life is not at a time where I could commit to scheduled live broadcasts. But, it would be an interesting thing to do once I have more viewers. Adding a Paypal donation button on my channel probably wouldn’t hurt. I don’t expect the YouTube monetization to amount to much.
This is definitely one of the things that I want to fix. There isn’t enough details in tutorials for people to create polished work. For instance, the community almost universally talks about how horrible it is that Blender can’t handle hundreds (thousands?) of objects in the viewport. But, that isn’t a big deal at all; it is easy to work around. Moreover, there is an add-on called Blender Proxy to mimic V-Ray Proxy, but the add-on isn’t even good. I can exactly replicate the V-Ray Proxy’s behavior with almost no effort and no add-on. If more advanced tutorials help the community push Blender’s capabilities more, the developers will have more incentive to fix professional production issues.
You really need to tackle the video thing. The Audacity reference was assuming you have some kind of NLE that may or may not have good audio editing tools. In which case you could export the audio, clean it up and come back.
There is no excuse not to have some kind of video editing software these days. Worst case scenario it will set you back only a few bucks.
Anyway regarding content. If you are having a project based approach that is fine. Just split the project up into segments. For example. I might already know how to model characters but not how to use the Rigigy set up and maybe 5 out of 10 of the videos I can skip because I just want to get to the things I want to know. If you provide starter content for each lession I can DL that and jump right in.
Another more practical thing especially for new people. The starter content allows them to make sure that they have a working file for further steps. Maybe they can not sort out what they did wrong in an earlier step, (version issues or new bugs perhaps) and they want the content to move to the next lesson. Could be they got the gist of the last lesson, learned what they wanted… but… lol the model they made was crap…lol But want to continue on to rigging. That kind of thing.
For me I don’t always do a tutorial to be an expert at the content that is being used for examples. I look to be an expert in the techniques. And there is a bit of a difference.
I would call this kind of thing : basics of scene management. Target of this kind of tutorial can be any user.
It is not because a user have an experience in other software in doing complex scenes and try to reproduce it in blender without taking a look at manual that he should call himself an advanced blender user.
Most of members of community have an heteregeneous knowledge of blender.
A user can master sculpt mode at a high level and totally ignore a lot of basic tools in Mesh Edit or Object mode.
A user can master Mesh Edit mode and ignore how to flip a bone in Armature Edit mode.
I think that because they have great skills in one domain are speedy to qualify themselves as intermediate or advanced users.
For me, an advanced user will understand what you are talking about with no definition needed.
IMO, advanced users don’t really need tutorials to talk about workflows. They are already doing it in feature requests threads.
Or it should concern relatively new features and topics.
So, what is an intermediate user ? Somebody who only need some explanations.
The whole topic is which explanations. This point is subjective.
I would say that depends of subject of tutorial.
IMHO, if you want to do a tutorial for intermediate users about particles; you should not have to explain how to add a particle system, difference between emitter/hair, different physics types … or how to bake a particle system.
These kind of things should be let to tutorials for beginners, unfamiliar with particles.
A tutorial for beginners that omits to detail all physics types of particles is not necessary a bad tutorial about particles.
But a tutorial for any skill level that omits baking of particles is a bad one. A tutorial for intermediate users should at least tell : “now, bake particle system!”
But it is not because you are doing a tutorial with particles in it that it is a tutorial for advanced users. It may be a tutorial for beginnners in particles using.
Of course, you will skip some basics of blender like 3DView navigation, Properties, active object. In this sense, it should be called intermediate user.
But Blender is so big, that is better to restrict skill levels to a smaller domain.
Because saying “I am an intermediate or an advanced Blender user” does not really make sense.
Many long tutorials produced by community are long because they are talking to both level of skills. Beginners and Intermediate user.
You can’t explain how to control particles with textures in a short time if you don’t skip explanations about Blender basics, textures, texture mapping and particles for beginners.
Many tutorials are redundant because they have this idea that they may be an introduction to Blender.
And it is very comprehensive.
You will make more views with a title like “Learn to make a dragon in Blender” than with a title like “learn basics of outliner”.
I believe you have to make the decision between whether you want to create Educational materials or Edutainment materials.
Some people will complain about a tutorial being too long because it actually TEACHES how (and why) to do something, instead of just DEMONSTRATING the process of doing something.
I think if you want to teach, you should teach, and this takes time because you have to explain the reasoning behind the actions taken. Otherwise, there is no depth to the learning, if there’s even any learning at all.
People will have issues with something no matter which approach you choose. So, I believe the decision should be based on what your real purpose is behind creating the materials in the first place.